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Buildings have an enormous impact on the environment and climate change. At 41 per cent of the total US energy consumption, buildings out-consume the industrial (30 per cent) and transportation (29 per cent) sectors. Buildings use about 14 per cent of all potable water (15 trillion gallons per year). In the United States alone, buildings account for almost 40 per cent of national CO2 emissions. Standard building practices use and waste millions of tons of materials each year.
In comparison, green buildings use natural resources efficiently, minimise waste and result in lower utility bills and impact on the environment. LEED-certified buildings have 34 per cent lower CO2 emissions and consume 25 per cent less energy. Water-efficiency efforts in green buildings are expected to reduce water use by 15 per cent and save more than 10 per cent in operating costs. Retrofitting one out of every 100 American homes with water-efficient fixtures, could avoid about 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road for one year. LEED projects are also responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and by 2030 that number is expected to grow to 540 million tons.
The market for green buildings
As the demand for more sustainable building options increases, green construction is becoming increasingly profitable and desirable within the international construction market. The market is responding to these cost savings and environmental benefits at a dramatic rate. According to a Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, the global green building sector continues to double every three years, with survey respondents from 70 countries reporting that 60 per cent of their projects will be green by 2018. India ranks third, among the top 10 countries for LEED green buildings. In 2016, nearly 650 Indian building projects earned LEED certification.
Cost-effectiveness of green buildings
- Upfront investment in green building, makes properties more valuable, with an average expected increase in value of four per cent. By virtue of lower maintenance and energy costs, the return on investment from green building is rapid: green retrofit projects are generally expected to pay for itself, in just seven years.
- Green buildings reduce day-to-day costs year-over-year. LEED buildings report almost 20 per cent lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings and green building retrofit projects, typically decrease operation costs by almost 10 per cent in just one year.
- Between 2015 and 2018, LEED-certified buildings in the United States are estimated to give USD 1.2 billion in energy savings, USD 149.5 million in water savings, USD 715.2 million in maintenance savings and USD 54.2 million in waste savings.
The benefits of green buildings and how it impacts the market
The green building sector is outpacing overall construction growth in the United States and will continue to rise. By 2018, green constructions will directly contribute 1.1 million jobs and USD 75.6 billion in wages in the United States. The industry’s direct contribution to US gross domestic product (GDP) is also expected to reach USD 303.5 billion from 2015-2018. LEED building construction projects are estimated contribute 3,86,000 jobs and USD 26.2 billion in wages by 2018.
The green building movement
More than 20 years ago, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) started as a vision. In 2000, the very first LEED green buildings were certified, propelling the multi-billion-dollar global green building industry and spurring explosive growth in energy-efficient, green buildings across the globe. In 2008, the USGBC created Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI), an independent certification and credentialing organisation, to accelerate the mission of USGBC and the adoption of LEED. In 2015, the USGBC incorporated GBCI in India. GBCI works with business and government officials, to help address and meet the priority needs of a rapidly urbanising India.
What is LEED?
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most widely used green building rating program in the world and is one of the single most powerful economic development tools for revitalizing and scaling sustainable buildings across the globe. LEED has become a full-scale global movement, with nearly 90,000 registered and certified projects across 165 countries and territories. As of May 2017, more than 19.1 billion sq ft of building space is LEED-certified worldwide and approximately 2.2 million sq ft is achieving LEED certification each day.
The Greenbuild expo
Every year, the USGBC produces the largest green building conference and expo in the world. This is where the contributions of USGBC, GBCI and our community members come together. Founded in 2002, Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building. The event will make its debut in Mumbai, India, on November 2-4, 2017, at the Bombay Exhibition Centre (BEC). Greenbuild India is where you can learn about current research and best practices to elevate your business, connect with sustainability experts and see innovative technologies and products. Greenbuild India will be presented by the US Green Building Council and ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences Pvt Ltd.
(The writer represents U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI’s leadership team)
For more information on USGBC and LEED in India: https://www.usgbc.org/resources/leed-motion-india.
To register for Greenbuild India conference and Expo: http://greenbuild.usgbc.org/india.